I’ve always been struck by this passage, which I long believed to be from Anais Nin, but actually turns out to be Marguerite Duras:

“What do you do all day? All night?”
“You don’t read?”
“No. I pretend to.”

The fact is, even though THE STATE is not explicitly an ode to longform—though many of our journal pieces cross 3,000 words—we read an awful lot. Sometimes in between and around the lines, and mostly on a screen. So, we’re trying something new here. A weekly, or semi-regular roundup of things found elsewhere on the Internet. Some things might even be found elsewhere in time, with the criminally easy archive archaeology allowed by longform-type aggregators.

I’ve been making an effort to read more widely outside of North American and British publications too, though not always successfully. And before travelling, I like to read a place (on paper, on screen) before reading it physically. Next weekend I’ll be in Ooty and Bangalore. I’ve never been to the latter but have loosely been considering moving there, so the trip should serve as a good indicator.

NB: I’m not so familiar with Indian, or even more broadly, subcontinental publications apart from Caravan, Motherland, and Himal Southasian, despite asking around and scouring in Mumbai; maybe I was looking in all the wrong places. Suggestions in comments much appreciated.

Ariel Sharon’s fascinating appetite—Matt Rees, Salon
“Ariel Sharon was ashamed of his weight. I couldn’t tell you exactly how heavy he was; the jacket of the light-gray business suit he usually wore disguised the extent of his belly and the dangling mass of his upper arms. Only when he walked could you make out the way he lifted his thighs around each other instead of moving them directly forward.”

An essay on the New Aesthetic—Bruce Sterling, Wired
“There are ways to make that stark, lava-covered ground artistically fertile and productive. Lush, humanistic, exotic crops will grow from that smoking, ashy techno-rubble of ours, someday.”

The Emirate of Dubai—Deniz Üster, Satellite Voices
“The Emirate of Dubai, is the biggest site-specific art project in terms of scale, budget and the amount of performers, the inhabitants it involves.”

Escape Artists—Rachel Richardson, Poetry Foundation
“If poetry is subversive because it makes readers pause and consider the world with new eyes, makes them listen to their language with new ears, maybe even changes the world around them, then imagine the prison poetry workshop.”

The Final Comeback of Axl Rose—John Jeremiah Sullivan, GQ
“Given the relevant maps and a pointer, I think I could convince even the most exacting minds that when the vast and blood-soaked jigsaw puzzle that is this country’s regional scheme coalesced into more or less its present configuration after the Civil War, somebody dropped a piece, which left a void, and they called the void Central Indiana. I’m not trying to say there’s no there there. I’m trying to say there’s no there.”

Gulf Return—Deepak Unnikrishnan, Himal Southasian
“In Kerala, a term exists for people like my parents, bandied by neighbours and relatives – Gulf return. Always used in the singular, it is a term associated with privilege, a term for the once-insider who will die an outsider.”

How to Be an Architecture Critic—Alexandra Lange, Design Observer
“Buildings are everywhere, large and small, ugly and beautiful, ambitious and dumb. We walk among them and live inside them, largely passive dwellers in cities of towers, houses, open spaces and shops we had no hand in creating. But we are their best audience.”

Mail Supremacy—Lauren Collins, New Yorker
“The Mail’s closest analogue in the American media is perhaps Fox News. In Britain, unlike in the United States, television tends to be a dignified affair, while print is berserk and shouty.”

Odd Corners Round About Brooklyn—Jenny Hendrix, Paris Review
‘Djuna Barnes, best known as a cult feminist-ish lesbian experimental novelist, once described herself—with unaccustomed hauteur—as “the unknown legend of American literature.”’

Runs Girl—Chinelo Okparanta, Granta
A bird had flown over our compound with a mouse in its mouth. A black bird, maybe a crow. From the parlour window, we watched it fly. It was lovely and surreal, like a painting. Beautiful blue skies in the backdrop of blackness and death.”

Slow Burn Lahore iii: “This is my culture”—Manan Ahmed, Chapati Mystery
“The back of his rickshaw had a relief of Lahori Pehlwans (wrestlers) – eyes fixed, arms held out as if an onion was strapped in their armpits, and chests gleaming in oil. The ad was for a dangal (meet).”

Supply & Demand—Mehboob Jeelani, Caravan
“The contact page lists a number for someone named “Peter”, but the man who manages the stable of 20 female and five male prostitutes goes by three other names, none of them his own. If the caller is an Indian man, he is Robin; if it is a westerner, he calls himself Dick; and for Indian women, he is Azam Khan.”

Image: Herbert Bayer, Diagram of the Field of Vision, 1930